2016 Old Inlet Annual Spring Surf Fishing Tournament
Saturday was the annual Old Inlet spring surf fishing tournament. The weather the last few weeks and especially weekends has not been nice enough to entice people to get out and fish. When the tournament comes around it is rain or shine so you fish regardless. Some prefish the tourney looking for fish and spots holding fish at certain times of the day , hoping the conditions stay the same to keep fish in the area. This year we were lucky enough to see the large blues show up again and large migratory striped bass to boot. The day before the tournament the fishing was off the hook, pun intended. The amount of bass being caught was great compared to the amount of people fishing. Seeing those big fish hit the surf encouraged many people to get into the tournament despite the weather. Of course fishing never is the same from day-to-day.
I met Chris Ranney and Corby Fulton at Conquest Beach and we headed out in front of a beautiful sunrise which was great to see since the past couple of weeks have been nasty weather. However we needed a repeat of the weather from the day before, when all of those fish were caught. Fortunately the clouds stuck around and we were overcast for most of the day. The rain came in at one point and then we saw a patch of blue sky. It was a day of fluctuating weather and catches. We set up on one side of a huge cut at Conquest beach, the one that looks like a river where the swales drain. At the end of the day we would realize we should have been on the other side, but isn’t that true of any day of fishing. Should have, could have, maybe would have. The same spot we were in Saturday is now blowing up with striped bass on Monday, go figure. Such is the nature of fishing a tournament.
We didn’t see a fish all morning, Ray Hibbs was our judge and he kept me posted on what was happening on the beaches. I was also doing the Facebook live broadcasts on the page. Those are fun and we kept people updated all day. I will continue to do these at events and am working on slowing the camera down. A few videos looked like the surf fishing version of the Blair Witch Project. Jason and Rory Schuster were on 3Rs and messaged that the dog-fish and skates were horrible, they were heading to Keybox. Later in the day they discovered they made a good choice. Sometime after the tide started switching up, we moved our trucks back to the surf line. We parked close, dropped the gear we needed and moved the cars out of the swale area to the dune base.. We were in an area that would be an island if the swales filled and they did but not as extreme as the previous days. The abnormal high tides had subsided by then, despite the fact it trapped an angler on the south jetty, and he had to be rescued by the coast guard.
Eventually, Ray Hibbs tells me, bluefish are being landed north of us, we figure good they are moving with the outgoing tide maybe we will see some action. Shaun Smith lands a twenty inch blue not long after. Suzanne Martin nabs a short striped bass and we have already seen some dogs and skates. A neighbor, Rich who was fishing with his kids, lands a nice gator bluefish. We figure we are looking at the Calcutta winner. Then the buzz is up and down the beach, a thirty-seven inch bluefish was landed not far from us. A picture is sent to the DSF Facebook page of the blue by Joe Drupieski, which later will win the Calcutta at $2200 and land him third place. We are all thinking not all is lost that size bluefish can still be beat and the day ain’t over yet. Jason Schuster lands a nice striped bass and is now on the board with points. He is pleased they didn’t pack it in and call it a day. The weather is jumping from clear to rain.
We were giving play by play updates on Facebook with the live broadcast feature. Letting people know what we knew so far, and up to date. That was as much fun as fishing the tournament, people were sending us pictures like crazy. I will post them all in an album on Facebook and link them to this article. Suzanne Martin landed the first score-able puffer in a surf fishing tournament. She was dubbed the “Puffer Queen” on the beach. Later she will win third place and officially earn the title. Her ten inch puffer put her in third place for the ladies division. She couldn’t stop smiling all day and now we have to design her a T-shirt. Chris Ranney landed a smaller puffer and that was all we got all day. I came up the big skunk, not even a skate. Shaun Smith cranked up the excitement when he landed a nice striped bass. He was dancing around the line in the surf and all we could do is watch and hope the fish didn’t throw the hook. You are not allowed to help anyone land a fish in a tournament. The fish was a few ticks bigger than Jason’s and I told them Shaun might have the top catch. Then Rory Schuster slammed a forty-four inch striped bass, and the rest is history. As usual the tournament was a good time had by all, just looking at the numbers of two hundred and fifty-one anglers compared to the amount of fish scored gives you an idea of the action on the beach for that Saturday. Of course the next day fish were hitting heavier in the same places and today on Monday. While the tournament was happening, some nice striped bass and gator blues were landed at Cape Henlopen. I will tell you about the story of the next day’s adventure in the next article, it is a good one.
The results of the 2016 Old Inlet Annual Spring Surf Fishing Tournament
Big fish hit the beach! 6 stripers over 30 inches scored. More than 12 bluefish over 24 inches scored.
Conditions were rainy with heavy tide. But the big fish did not disappoint.
29 Women 22 kids
Open Division –
First Place 84 Points Rory Schuster $750 and Trophy
Second Place 63 Points Shaun Smith $500 and Trophy
Third Place 57 Points Joe Drupieski $350 and Trophy
Fourth Place (tie) 40 Points Chad Bayless and David Bloodsworth $75 Each
First Place 21 Points Kelsey Cycyk $250 and Trophy
Second Place 12 Points Carla Wright $100 and Trophy
Third Place 11 Points Suzanne Martin (the puffer queen) $50 and Trophy
Kids Division – none placed
Grand Slam Prize – none
Biggest Fish of Tournament – 44″ Striped Bass $1,000 Rory Schuster
Biggest Bluefish Calcutta – $2,200 37″ Blue fish Joe Drupieski
Congratulations to All!